Information

Scotland's Open Government action plan: 2021 to 2025

Scotland’s third national action plan as a member of the Open Government Partnership.

This document is part of a collection


4. Commitments

This section outlines what we plan to do under each of the five Open Government Commitments in our Action Plan.

On our website you can find more detail on milestones that each of these Commitments have set out to track their progress. The first milestones are initial and these will be updated throughout the course of the Action Plan, so please periodically check to see how work is developing.

Fiscal Openness and Transparency

Commitment Title

Fiscal Openness and Transparency – improving the accessibility and usability of our data and information about the public finances.

We will improve the accessibility and usability of our data and information about public finances, to enable better understanding and scrutiny for a wide range of users, including citizens. This means continuously working to improve how open and transparent we are in Scotland, benchmarked alongside other countries and approaches, about the status, processes, and direction of our public finances.

Timeframe

2021-25

Lead Implementing Directorate

Scottish Exchequer (performance, tax, budget and public spending and infrastructure), Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate, Financial Management

Civil Society Stakeholders

  • Open Government Partnership (lead non-government stakeholder)
  • Open Data Cooperative
  • Glasgow Caledonian University; Equalities and Budget Advisory Group
  • Scottish human rights Commission
  • Young Scot
  • Infrastructure Transparency Initiative
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Commitment Description

Problem

As the process of devolution has progressed, increased fiscal powers have seen the Scottish Government move from a predominantly spending government to one that now raises a significant portion of its own revenue, up to 36% in 2019-20. This means the Scottish Government has more autonomy or choice about the levers it can use to implement economic and social policy decisions to progress the National Outcomes in the National Performance Framework. The additional powers and responsibilities are intended to improve financial accountability and scrutiny; however they have also led to greater complexity.

We are aware from a range of sources and engagement with stakeholders and citizens that there is more government can do to improve the transparency of financial, procurement and performance information. We also know, from our Fiscal Transparency Discovery Report, taken forward as part of our commitment on financial transparency in the previous Action Plan, that the current fiscal information is not easily accessible or presented in a way that meets most users' needs. These challenges include:

  • The Scottish Parliament and human rights / equalities organisations have called for improved published fiscal information.
  • Open Government stakeholders have called for better information to enable them to "follow the money" from revenue raised to spending choices and outcomes progressed.
  • The current presentation of information does not compare well with best practice of other Scottish organisations and key comparators internationally.

Status Quo

In Scotland's previous Action Plans, we made commitments to improve financial and performance transparency, by explaining how Scotland's public finances work, as well improving how we present information we publish.

Our research from the Fiscal Transparency Discovery exercise, has found that the current picture regarding the production, publication and accessibility of fiscal information in Scotland presents a complex landscape with at least 10 separate parts of the Scottish Government and associated public sector organisations who own and publish core fiscal information – in over 40 separate regular outputs and additional ad hoc outputs. There are also a number of external organisations who interpret and publish fiscal information.

The current outputs are fragmented across many websites and are not easily accessible, as content, format and communication are not always consistent and user-centred. In addition there is a limited amount of open data published, with infrequent use of dynamic data visualisations or accessible and short summary documents.

User research has shown that external users are frustrated with scattered information; disjointed timelines, impenetrable nature of the current outputs and processes; inflexible and unusable documents as well as inconsistent data.

User research with external stakeholders, conversations with internal stakeholders, and international research has identified goals and potential benefits of improved government fiscal transparency services and what these services should look like. This sets out a clear ambition but further detailed and technical work is required to map out how to progress this in ways which achieve real change that can be sustained over time.

Action

Our goal is comprehensive, accurate, trustworthy, timely and linked fiscal information that is accessible, usable and understandable to a wide range of users, including citizens, including open fiscal data that people can easily reuse.

These goals support collaboration with other publishers and users of fiscal information to achieve joint transparency aims, as well as to improve stakeholder and citizen understanding, engagement and participation on public finances.

We will:

  • benchmark progress on fiscal openness and transparency.
  • establish an approach to assess progress of fiscal openness and transparency, moving towards international best practices and transparency and data standards.
  • improve the accessibility of fiscal information.
  • implement the Fiscal Transparency Discovery Report recommendations to improve the quality, coverage, presentation and standards of current fiscal data.
  • deliver a procurement management information platform to improve data standards, demonstrate the impact of public sector procurement on Scotland's economy – identifying opportunities to maximise delivery of outcomes at a local and national level.
  • improve the transparency around the Scottish Budget, reviewing the accessibility and usability of existing and future information and guidance.
  • improve engagement and participation.
  • build on previous engagement and best practice to develop a multi-stakeholder approach to the next Infrastructure Investment Plan.
  • build on previous engagement, striving for a best practice approach to engagement, ensuring that we use our tax powers in a transparent policy making process.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the problem described above?

Delivering this commitment will:

  • improve public participation in government policy and enhance the approach into how resource allocations are made, providing opportunities for stakeholders and citizens to express their views, leading to more effective polices and improved outcomes.
  • provide a fuller understanding of how public finances are managed to increase trust in government data, and to enable stakeholders to explore how, where and why decisions are taken.
  • enhance financial accountability by improving the efficiency with which data is produced and published, enable more effective consultations, and provide information that is more open, accessible, reusable and understandable for a wide range of users.

Overall the commitment will improve how the Scottish Government compares with best practice of other Scottish organisations and key international comparators.

What long-term goal as identified in your Open Government Strategy does this commitment relate to?

This commitment will promote fiscal openness and increased public participation in government policy, enabling greater financial transparency and accountability across Scottish Government. This will support the long-term goal of embedding Open Government principles across the work of government.

Primary policy area

  • Fiscal Openness
  • Public Procurement

Primary sector

  • Public Services (general)

What OGP Value is this commitment relevant to?

  • Access to Information
  • Civic Participation
  • Public Accountability
  • Technology and Innovation for Transparency and Accountability

Why is this commitment relevant to the value(s) identified above?

Improving the openness and accessibility of the Scottish Government's financial, procurement and performance data and information we will provide comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date and linked fiscal information that can be more readily interpreted and trusted. The information we provide will be open, accessible, reusable and understandable for a wide range of users, including citizens.

Improving transparency will provide a solid basis from which citizens, stakeholder groups, think tanks and researchers can explore how, where and why decisions are taken – providing opportunities for stakeholders and citizens to express their views, both through traditional and more modern methods of engagement and participation.

What resources are needed to achieve this commitment?

Budget

Budget allocation linked to existing priorities, plus an increase in the budget to progress the recommendations of the Fiscal Transparency Discovery Report.

Staff

Existing staff within government, plus additional resource to progress the recommendations of the Fiscal Transparency Discovery Report

Time

Four years

Other resources required

Resources and contributions required to support progress with the overall commitment, including users of fiscal information and other data producers, as well as analysts and subject matter experts.

Are the resources needed to achieve this commitment already secured?

Partially – Fiscal Transparency Programme resources to be secured.

Optional additional information

This commitment will be developed through an iterative process – we have set out activity for Year 1. We will update milestones each year, to reflect on progress and focus on opportunities for further development.

Health and Social Care

Commitment Title

Improving and increasing both service user / participant, and service delivery staff, in the development, design and improvement of health and care services in Scotland.

Timeframe

October 2021 – September 2025

Lead Implementing Directorate

Directorate for Healthcare Quality and Improvement, DG Health and Social Care

Civil Society Stakeholders

  • Open Government Partnership
  • Scottish Community Development Centre
  • Community Justice Scotland /Shelter / Families Outside
  • Safe Families for Children
  • Barnardo's Scotland
  • Cancer Support Scotland
  • The Pain Association Scotland
  • Parkinsons UK
  • Centrestage (Arts)
  • Epilepsy campaigner/ parent / lived experience.

Commitment Description

Problem

  • The current health and care system is not consistently person-centred.
  • The development and design of health and social care services are not always co-designed. People are not engaged consistently, and when they are included it is not always early enough in the policy making process to fully influence work.
  • People who are using/accessing health and social care systems are not always supported to be able to provide feedback or support development work based on their experiences and in an accessible way which meets their needs.
  • People, parents and/or carers are not always regarded and listened to, as experts in their own lives or the lives of those they care for. They can be excluded from involvement under the current systems.
  • There are currently few mechanisms for people, parents and/or carers to be able to inform or establish the agenda in terms of health and social care development and design.
  • Different sectors (national and local government, NHS, and third sector services) have different priorities, levels of funding, governance requirements and levels of accountability, which can result in disjointed services.
  • The current health and social care system often focuses on crisis and urgent care needs rather than prevention and early intervention.
  • There can be a considerable difference between policy intentions and delivery of services.

Status Quo

The Scottish Government is taking a proactive approach to hear from and involve people and communities in aspects of the planning, delivery and continuous improvement of services, for example:

  • we support NHS Boards to engage with the independent website Care Opinion, where people can share their stories of care in Scotland, good or bad, and engage in constructive dialogue about how services could be improved.
  • we fund the 'Our Voice' Citizens' Panel, which enables the voices of people to be heard including how to make communication between services and those that use them more inclusive.
  • the Scottish Care Experience Survey Programme provides information on the quality of health and care services from the perspective of those using them.
  • the Scottish Government is developing Community Engagement Guidance, recognising the important role that people have in shaping their local services.
  • the Independent Review of Adult Care in Scotland stated "we have a duty to co-produce our new system with the people who it is designed to support, both individually and collectively".
  • in Scotland's Open Government Action Plan 2018-20 a Participation Framework was created to enable and embed a strong culture and practice of participation across government.

We will build on all of the above work, drawing on lessons from each of piece of work to better embed co-production with people in priority work in health and social care.

Action

As we remobilise the health service and begin to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, person-centred healthcare, and ensuring that the voices of people who use healthcare services are heard and can influence the design and delivery of services, is a priority for the Scottish Government and those who deliver services.

Scottish Government will use the Open Government Principles and processes to develop actions that will support the aim of improving person-centred user design and participation in health and social care. This commitment will support developing better systems to involve people in the design and delivery of policy and services that meet their needs.

The Scottish Approach to Service Design advises organisations on the importance of service users and delivery staff in the formation of multi-disciplinary design teams. Scottish Government is committed to this approach, ensuring that work on the redesign and recovery of services post-pandemic will make it easier for people to participate in co-designing the services they need and use.

The action will aim to embed the principles of co-design in health and social care policy making. Co-design is an approach which involves everyone (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure the end result meets the needs of those involved and is usable. We will seek to empower people to collaboratively design services, based on their lived experiences.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the problem described above?

The commitment will ensure Scottish Government has tested and effective processes for involving people in the co-design of health and care services. Previous work to review existing literature on this topic evidenced the importance of involving communities as equal and reciprocal partners in effecting change. It also highlights the importance of the evaluation of work being participatory. In embedding these principles we will design services that meet the needs of people accessing and working within them.

Working with people to co-design services should help ensure people can access the services that they need to access at the right time. It should reduce barriers to people accessing health and care provision. By designing services that work for the people using them and those working in them they should be more efficient, hopefully reducing costs and time. This will also provide a blue print that can be used in wider policy making.

What long-term goal as identified in your Open Government Strategy does this commitment relate to?

This commitment will offer opportunities for embedding person-centred user design and participation in work to improve health and social care provision, aligning with the Open Government principles of innovative participation and engagement. It will support a person-centred approach that is open, transparent and accountable.

This will support the long-term goal of embedding Open Government principles across the work of government.

Primary policy area

  • Inclusion

Primary sector

  • Health
  • Public Services (Health & Social Care)

What OGP Value is this commitment relevant to?

  • Civic Participation
  • Public Accountability

Why is this commitment relevant to the value(s) identified above?

The commitment makes clear that the Scottish Government recognises that by including people and supporting accessible participation in the design of services we will better meet the needs of people accessing and working within them. We will ensure a system of accountability is built in to the planned action.

What resources are needed to achieve this commitment?

Budget

An estimated £400,000 is the initial annual (new) costs for the staffing of a person-centred design team to facilitate and enable this work to be planned and started.

Further costs will be identified as work on the commitment progresses.

Staff

Existing staff:

Oversight by Director for Healthcare Quality and Improvement

Policy contribution from: C2, C1 & B3 on Participation and Community Engagement

Office of the Chief Designer planning contribution from: C3 and C2

New staff:

Policy: C1

Service Design team: C3, C2, B3, B2

Time

An initial period of four-to-five months will be needed to hire and on-board staff, establish a work plan and undertake initial engagement with Health and Social care teams working on programmes associated with this work.

Over this initial period we will agree how and with what frequency we will bring together the civil society team to support the development of work and agree how progress can be monitored and evaluated.

Other resources required

Are the resources needed to achieve this commitment already secured?

Yes, resources are agreed for the initial stages and milestones of the commitment. Further resources will need to be identified as work progresses and more detailed plans are made.

Optional additional information

In addition to embedding the principles of co-design we will draw from the below work to further enhance our work:

  • the Participation Framework.
  • Community Engagement Guidance.
  • the work of the Scottish National Action Plan for human rights.
  • the PANEL Principles (Participation, Accountability, Non-Discrimination, Empowerment and Legality).

Data and Digital

Commitment Title

Supporting government openness, transparency and empowerment through open data

Timeframe

Start date November 2021, end date December 2025

Lead Implementing Directorate

Digital Directorate

Civil Society Stakeholders

  • COSLA,
  • Open Data Services Co-operative

Commitment Description

Problem

Scotland's Digital Strategy sets our ambition to be a data-driven nation. We value the transformational role that data can play in increasing transparency, empowering communities, transforming products and services, fuelling innovation and improving outcomes.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of data in saving time, money and lives. Publishing and internal sharing of open data enables efficiency gains, cost savings and service improvement. We want to make more of our data available openly and make public sector data easy to find. People, businesses and developers can use open data to create products for decision making at a variety of levels.

The data we publish must be accessible and meet users' needs, provide insight and support decision making. Different audiences have different needs. Our approach must be informed by an understanding of these needs and directed towards supporting outcomes, lessening the burden of data use and reuse.

We need to find a way of connecting with users who are not engaged with data, by considering equalities and skills. We recognise the value of supporting other Open Government themes through data; e.g. people being empowered to use data to understand and make decisions to reduce their impact on global warming.

The way public services make decisions using data is as important as the data they publish. This includes the use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive Artificial Intelligence (AI), as outlined in Scotland's AI Strategy.

Status Quo

Scottish public bodies publish a wide variety of data, much of it in reusable formats. We know that this is highly valued by many users and that we have an engaged and energetic community of users.

We also know that many people cannot find the data they are looking for. In some cases, they do not know what data exists and how the data is defined and described. This means that they cannot easily use and reuse data to help them make informed decisions. We know that to create value for communities and businesses the data must be relatable to create insight, but many may lack the skills and confidence to take action.

We also know that people find some open data platforms difficult to use - their skill level or needs are unmet. We acknowledge that people often cannot adequately access data to inform or answer the questions they have.

Reducing the amount of time people spend trying to find the data will release more time to help answer some of our nation's biggest questions. This will aid decision making on a number of challenges that Scotland is tackling.

There are both varying levels of data maturity and data literacy across organisations who produce data. These differences can create organisational barriers to opening up data.

Many people are unaware of or unclear on the use of AI in the Scottish public sector. Developing an AI algorithm register will allow people to understand and influence public sector applications of AI, and help earn their trust, which is essential to the delivery of Scotland's AI strategy.

Action

Over the four years of the plan, we'll apply an enabling methodology to develop open data infrastructure and share examples of the value generated from use cases across a series of thematic areas to support plan commitments, including:

  • Discovery – of current open data landscape and standards; learn from other administrations.
  • User needs – stakeholder identification, develop communications channels, understand needs.
  • Identify and Share Use Cases - share value from real-life use cases.
  • Commit to Continuous Improvement – ongoing feedback.
  • Data Needs – support to create the connection between data users and producers, so that data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

We will:

1 – open up data relevant to other Open Government themes, such as key climate change datasets used by government for modelling and reporting, data on public transport and public sector expenditure

2 – run a CivTech challenge to evaluate if technology can make public sector data easy to find, assess outcomes and set out the way forward

3 – set up the Data Transformation Framework (DTF) stating what "good data" looks like and the process by which organisations can improve: this focuses on opportunity for organisations to improve data maturity, data literacy and adoption of standards, through collaboration and engagement with local government and other public sector bodies, to be useful for civil society

4 – review the front end of our official statistics open data publishing platform, Scotland's Official Statistics open data publishing platform, www.statistics.gov.scot

5 – increase the amount of Scottish public sector open data being published, through collaborations such as the Data Standards and Open Data Community of Practice

6 – develop a public register of AI algorithms

How will the commitment contribute to solving the problem described above?

Activity 1

  • Increase number of useful open datasets to help people better understand and make decisions on the climate emergency and public transport, health and social care and the flow of public money in Scotland.
  • Present these datasets in a useful format.

Activity 2

  • People able to search for and discover the public sector data they need using natural language.
  • Data are discoverable, both from portals and websites.
  • We can identify gaps in the data we publish, based on user searches.

Activity 3

  • Improve and enable data reuse in the Scottish Public Sector.
  • Develop the DTF, outlining realistic and measurable maturity stages, setting out what "good data" looks like and the process by which organisations can improve.
  • Identify a Data Maturity Assessment model which will help Public Sector organisations both understand their current data status and plan steps for data improvement.

Activity 4

Activity 5

  • More public sector datasets being published in an open format.
  • Sustained positive collaboration amongst public sector bodies to open up their datasets; using the Data Standards and Open Data Community of Practice and other routes.
  • Use cases where opening up access to data empowers people to answer questions, make decisions and drive improvements.

Activity 6

  • The public has understanding and agency over how AI is used to help make decisions.
  • The Scottish Government and partners can develop public trust, so AI can benefit society, economy and public services.
  • Constructive dialogue between people and policy makers, developers and users of AI systems and processes in the public sector; contributing to improved design and implementation of AI.

What long-term goal as identified in your Open Government Strategy does this commitment relate to?

We have recently published a number of strategies and commitments, such as Scotland's Digital Strategy and Scotland's AI Strategy. Within these strategies, we recognise and value the transformational role that data and AI can play in increasing transparency, empowering communities, transforming products and services, fuelling innovation, and improving outcomes. The purpose of the data commitment within the Open Government Action Plan is as an enabler: to align and implement the ambitions within these strategies in line with Open Government principles.

By focusing on thematic areas in support of the action plan, we will connect open data with the value we are seeking to create. This will drive greater engagement across civil society and government and create a clear alignment across the Open Government Action Plan.

Primary policy area

  • Open Data

Primary sector

  • Public Services (general)
  • Science and Technology

What OGP Value is this commitment relevant to?

  • Access to Information
  • Technology and Innovation for Transparency and Accountability

Why is this commitment relevant to the value(s) identified above?

People need to find data and information to be empowered to make informed decisions. People need to be able to use technology as an enabler to understand the data that affects them.

What resources are needed to achieve this commitment?

Budget

No additional resources bid for this year so either as:

  • existing.
  • or to be part of a bid in the next Financial Year.

Staff

One of the responsibilities of the open data team within the Scottish Government is to manage the programme of activities outlined within the Open Government Action Plan, and crucially, to connect to the correct people to ensure delivery of results.

No additional resources bid for this year so either as:

  • existing.
  • or to be part of a bid in the next Financial Year.

Time

Four years

Other resources required

Resources required to improve front end of Scotland's Official Statistics open data publishing platform, www.statistics.gov.scot

Are the resources needed to achieve this commitment already secured?

Partially

Optional additional information

The commitment "Supporting Open Government openness, transparency and empowerment through open data" links closely to the following:

This commitment links closely to other programmes for which open data are an enabler to achieve other Open Government commitments. For example, opening up data in a reusable format can provide enhanced access to the background evidence on climate change in Scotland.

Climate Change

Commitment Title

Establish an Open Government stakeholder network to deliver on participation and engagement requirements across key milestones for climate change policy

Timeframe

September 2021 to August 2025

Lead Implementing Directorate

Directorate for Energy and Climate Change

Civil Society Stakeholders

A full co-creation process has not yet taken place for this Commitment. Five external stakeholder groups were consulted on the draft commitment (Climate Outreach, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland, CEMVO and Stirling University).

Stakeholders will be involved in the development of the network as the first milestone of the commitment's work across four years. A core group will be formed to co-create the remit and governance for the network in the first phase of implementation.

A full process of co-creation will then begin. This will initially focus on public participation and engagement in climate change policy and just transition to net zero. Over the course of the four years of this NAP, collaboration will continue and new opportunities for applying principles of openness, transparency and accountability in these areas will be agreed.

Commitment Description

Problem

The Scottish Government has set climate change ambitions to become a net zero greenhouse gas emitting nation by 2045, with interim targets of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040, against 1990 baseline levels. It has also committed to doing this in a way that is just and fair for all people across Scotland. These are ambitious targets and require a collective effort from all corners of society to play their part, including governments, businesses, organisations, communities and households.

To achieve the system-wide transformation needed to become a net zero nation, it is crucial that stakeholders, communities, and people are aware of the global climate emergency and Scottish Government climate change policy, understand how it relates to their lives, and are able to participate in its delivery. Participation is key to ensuring all groups are bought-in to Scotland's climate ambitions and are part of the collective effort required.

Reaching a diverse audience and different sections of Scottish society to enable participation and engagement in climate change policy will require collaboration with the many and varied organisations across Scotland best placed to deliver these activities. There is currently no singular forum to bring together current engagement involving climate change policy makers and stakeholders with a reach across the public that can support and streamline this.

In line with the Just Transition approach and the principles of the Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change (PES) there is a need to consolidate and widen the existing pool of stakeholders regularly consulted on policy, streamline consultative processes on climate policy, and use these connections to maximise opportunities to develop new options for and drive public participation and engagement.

Status Quo

The latest data released in June 2021 showed that Scotland had missed its greenhouse gas emissions targets for the third year running – with a reduction of 51.5% against a target of 54% for 2019. This highlights the urgency needed over the next few years to catch-up to targets in order to meet the 2030 interim target.

In recent times, the Scottish Government has developed and delivered a range of policies and initiatives to respond to the climate emergency and support the transition to net zero. These include Scotland's Climate Assembly and the Just Transition Commission – both of which provided recommendations to be responded to this year – as well as the Climate Change Plan update (2020), the new PES (2021) and the second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (2019). In addition to responding to recommendations and delivering against strategies, the implementation of planned Community Climate Action Hubs is now underway, building from the now-closing Climate Challenge Fund. We have responded to the Just Transition Commission's recommendations (including Just Transition sector plans) and recently announced plans for a new Commission. The focus over the next four years is therefore to deliver against these policies.

Currently, our stakeholder engagement involves consulting a wide range of stakeholders from individuals, business, local authorities, parliament and NGOs on specific policies, where often inputs overlap with other related climate change policy work. This leads to multiple inputs from the same organisations whilst limiting engagement outside established networks/groups. Some activity involves stakeholder organisations in implementation, though this tends to be focused on the delivery of the policy rather than on participation and engagement elements or ensuring inclusive representation of the Scottish public.

Action

In line with OGP values, an initial core group of stakeholders will be set up to co-create the terms of reference for the network, set out governance and initial plans for the selection and membership process. This will ensure a clear understanding of the network's remit, and a solid basis on which to begin a process of co-creation.

The Open Government Partnership will then co-create a four-year action plan for the commitment, with additions and revisions during delivery. This will contain the activities and targets for the network to advise on, as well as key milestones, plus practicalities like the resource ask of the network and the method of participation (online/in-person).

The partnership will undertake as its initial milestone establishing a stakeholder network to support in delivering on participation and engagement requirements across delivery of aspects of climate change policy. Given the established climate change policy landscape, the network would be focused on implementation rather than policy design. During the four years of the Action Plan, there will be collaborative reflection to revisit this and refocus as required.

It is anticipated that the network will include a broad range of stakeholders, from the public, private and third sectors and civil society. The network would act as a pool from which to draw advice via different methods on a range of climate policy issues, rather than acting as a "steering group".

The network will be drawn on to convene relevant organisations to advise on key policy milestones in the action plan, seeking to bring in a wide range of views and expertise across climate, equality and inclusion, policy participation, community engagement, etc. The expected result from the network is advice that supports more participation/engagement in implementation on key climate change policies, including delivering against objectives in these policies.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the problem described above?

Having a stakeholder network to support delivery on participation and engagement activities will provide advice, accountability and transparency on Scottish Government actions. It will also provide a robust and representative basis for co-creation of new opportunities for applying principles of openness, transparency and accountability throughout the four years of the Action Plan. Milestones will be updated accordingly.

We expect the outcomes of this commitment to be:

  • expert advice to support on and deliver key climate change policy.
  • greater transparency and accountability of government activities and performance.
  • increased participation in policy delivery.
  • rationalisation of existing steering groups.
  • contribution to net zero targets.

What long-term goal as identified in your Open Government Strategy does this commitment relate to?

That people in Scotland actively participate in shaping and delivering on just, fair and inclusive policies that promote mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.

Primary policy area

  • Inclusion
  • Social Accountability

Primary sector

  • Environment and Climate

What OGP Value is this commitment relevant to?

  • Access to Information
  • Civic Participation
  • Public Accountability

Why is this commitment relevant to the value(s) identified above?

People need to access information, be aware of the action that all of Scotland is taking to tackle climate change, and understand how it relates to their lives.

People need to actively participate in shaping and delivering just, fair and inclusive climate change polices, so that they are bought-in to the whole-societal effort required to reach net zero.

People need to understand what action the Scottish Government is taking to tackle the climate emergency and hold them to account in this action, in order to achieve our climate change targets.

What resources are needed to achieve this commitment?

Budget

No additional budget allocation currently available

Staff

Secretariat (one or two people in Scottish Government). Chair.

Time

Four-year commitment. Core group initial development of network will be six-to-nine months.

Other resources required:

Civil society joint chair. Commitment of staff time to support core group co-creation of network.

Are the resources needed to achieve this commitment already secured?

Yes for the initial co-creation period of the commitment.

Further resources will need to be identified as the work progresses.

Optional additional information

A full co-creation process has not yet taken place for this Commitment. Setting up a representative stakeholder network is a required key step in the co-creation of new opportunities for applying principles of openness, transparency and accountability throughout the four years of the Action Plan. Milestones will be updated accordingly.

Participation

Commitment Title

Powering Participation in Scotland

Timeframe

October 2021 to September 2025

Lead Implementing Directorate

Local Government and Communities

Civil Society Stakeholders

  • Involve
  • Democratic Society
  • Glasgow University
  • TPX Impact

Commitment Description

Problem

During the last year the profound and uneven impact on society, rights and freedoms caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus the need to ensure people in Scotland can participate in the decisions that affect them, as individuals and in communities.

Scottish Government is committed to human rights, equality, inclusion and participatory democracy, and will deliver Covid Recovery in a person-centred way. However, it is recognised that participation in decision making currently lacks diversity, an intersectional approach is rarely taken and participation methods used may not help address these inequalities. There is a lack of diverse representation within civil society and too few opportunities for these vital organisations to see themselves as important voices in creating a culture of inclusive participation.

There remains an appetite for increased participation, but too often the purpose and outcomes are unclear and participants cannot see how their input has influenced decision making.

There is insufficient understanding of the benefits of participation in public service. Levels of collaboration in policy making between government, stakeholders and the public is uneven. Too often this is accompanied by a lack of:

  • skills, confidence and resources to commission or deliver effective participation, using the method most suited to the task.
  • accountability and transparency, with little monitoring and evaluation of participation.
  • alignment of participation with equalities and human rights.
  • understanding of how participation supports the delivery of other goals and priorities.

This has created uncertainty and risks undermining work to improve democracy, trust in government and participation in decision making.

Status Quo

Scotland's previous Action Plan produced a Participation Framework, to improve Scottish Government's approach, build skills and confidence. The Participation Framework is under-utilised and needs improvement to ensure inclusion and equality are at its core and is useful beyond government.

Scottish Government is focusing on mainstreaming human rights and Equalities, and the rights of children and young people. This will create a legislative foundation and guidance. A recent review of the Participation Framework identified changes that are needed, with a key recommendation that participation is designed and conducted with those "furthest away" from government in mind – to help everyone engage.

There are wider problems with the status quo, centring around a lack of inclusive opportunities, lack of skills, and lack of transparency and accountability.

  • Methods used (e.g. consultations) tend not to be inclusively designed, or part of a systematic and accountable approach to generating and using evidence from participation.
  • Engagement often does not reach beyond a limited and up-skilled group, as processes are not typically designed with the needs of individuals with protected characteristics in mind.
  • There are insufficient feedback loops to inform participants how their input has influenced decision making.

These work together to prevent a fully inclusive and intersectional approach to participation.

Innovative forms of democracy such as participatory budgeting, Citizens' Assemblies, and making the most of digital platforms have strengthened public involvement. These would benefit from more systematic application to avoid creating unmet expectations that can lead to further exclusion.

Action

This commitment will deliver actions around three interlinked themes:

1. Improve the Participation Framework to be better used and more focused on inclusion and equality. Link policy, practice and decision making to build access to tools, advice, skills and confidence, better connecting participation resources to community practice.

2. Provide advice and support to ensure participation focuses on equality of access. Scottish Government is focusing on mainstreaming human rights and Equalities, and the rights of children and young people. This will create legislation and guidance that recognises participation is a human right. It is key that participation is designed and conducted with those 'furthest away' from government in mind – to help everyone engage.

The actions will seek to overcome barriers of: lack of understanding, skills, transparency and accountability. This means recognising and systematically addressing:

  • That methods used (e.g. consultations) are often not inclusive, or seen as a core part of the system of generating and using evidence.
  • The need for careful resourcing, design and recruitment so that engagements are not with a limited and already up-skilled group. When individuals with protected characteristics are engaged with, processes should be designed with their needs in mind.
  • That it is often unclear if outputs from participation are influencing decision making.

3. Innovative forms of democracy such as participatory budgeting or Citizens' Assemblies; use of digital platforms; and focused deliberation with particular groups, will be further strengthened. The Participation Framework will provide guidance so that these are institutionalised, with more systematic application to avoid creating unmet expectations that can lead to further exclusion.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the problem described above?

This commitment will contribute to solving the problem described above through the following outputs and outcomes.

  • Provide guidance and advice to support the delivery of high-quality participation for Scotland's Covid Recovery, as well as the equalities and reform priorities.
  • Establish high-quality Citizens' Assemblies and other forms of participatory democracy as routine.
  • Establish a network with civil society to progress improving the Participation Framework and implementation of this Plan.
  • develop an approach that builds on best practice, to ensure high-quality engagement and participation in the review of the National Outcomes.

There will be outputs from Participation Framework improvements that will feed into guidance, training and advice on participation.

  • Set a clear definition of participation and the expectation that co-production or co-design will be used where possible.
  • Improve guidance on representation and sampling, making these as inclusive and intersectional as possible, including linking to Equalities Data Improvement Programme.
  • Explore ways to contribute to community capacity building to build more equitable participation, including ensuring participation funding incentivises inclusive engagement and targets marginalised communities.
  • Establish transparent monitoring and evaluation that records how participation is happening and what it has influenced.
  • Explore ways to align participation with equalities and human rights.
  • Implement programmes of training to roll out the Participation Framework and build capacity on equalities mainstreaming.
  • Work with CSOs and procurement policies to ensure funding is targeted at under-funded groups or communities.
  • Work with Open Government Network to bring in voices with lived experience to Plan Commitments.

What long-term goal as identified in your Open Government Strategy does this commitment relate to?

This is an enabling Commitment. It will work to embed high-quality and meaningful participation across the work of government, as well as supporting other Commitments to deliver in a participatory way.

Primary policy area

  • Civic Space
  • Inclusion

Primary sector

  • Citizenship and Immigration
  • Public Services (general)

What OGP Value is this commitment relevant to?

  • Civic Participation

Why is this commitment relevant to the value(s) identified above?

This commitment is an enabling commitment, supporting the wider OGP Action Plan and Scottish Government to improve the ways people can be actively involved in the decisions that affect them and to support democracy and civic space.

What resources are needed to achieve this commitment?

Budget (estimated budget allocation)

This commitment is overseen by the Open Government Team in Scottish Government along with an OGN lead. The SG budget for the coming year is not yet approved.

The current administration has made a commitment to institutionalising participatory democracy, including at least a Citizens' Assembly each year for the remainder of this plan period.

Staff (number of staff required to implement the commitment)

There are three members of staff in Scottish Government to manage the Open Government plan and to take forward the Participation Commitment.

Time (months needed to implement the commitment)

This commitment will run for the whole duration of this four-year plan. The priorities and milestones will be regularly reviewed to keep them current and stretching.

Other resources required:

Because this is cross-cutting there are a number of interdependencies. Depending on the route taken to make Citizens' Assemblies routine, there will be a resourcing requirement and a bid for budget.

Are the resources needed to achieve this commitment already secured?

Partially. There is a requirement to define the roles and tasks that are needed to deliver the Citizens' Assemblies and institutionalise participatory democracy. An expert working group will report in Autumn 2021, outlining what is required.

Optional additional information

The milestones outlined below represent a starting point for the Participation Commitment's work.

Twice-yearly throughout the four years of the Action Plan, milestones will be reviewed, developed and added to.

This Action Plan contributes to the achievement of a range of the current administration's overall policy goals. This includes the refresh of the Community Empowerment Act; the Local Democracy Bill, stemming from the Local Governance Review; the upcoming refresh of the National Performance Framework (NPF); and the new human rights Bill. All of these are opportunities to embed Open Government principles.

As much of this work is at an early stage, details on Open Government activities and identification of relevant milestones in these areas will be developed during the course of this Action Plan, with regular review points. Additional milestones will then be set out.

This commitment will support the work of the Local Governance Review (including the Bill which will come out of this work), as well as the review of the Community Empowerment Act, and will seek to agree relevant milestones at a future review date.

Contact

Email: doreen.grove@gov.scot

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